Kenneth Branagh reuniting with 'Cinderella' Lily James in theater series

Kenneth Branagh reuniting with 'Cinderella' Lily James in theater series
Actress Lily James and director Kenneth Branagh, who hit box-office gold with "Cinderella," will be reunited for a staging of "Romeo and Juliet" at London's Gerrick Theatre next year. (Christopher Jue / EPA)

Hot off the worldwide box-office success of Disney's "Cinderella," Kenneth Branagh will be heading back to the London theater scene to produce a new series of plays, including a staging of "Romeo and Juliet" starring his "Cinderella" leading lady Lily James.

Branagh will present a lineup of five plays at the Garrick Theatre on London's West End starting later this year. It will mark a return to running a theater organization for the Oscar-nominated actor-director, who headed the Renaissance Theatre Company in the late 1980s and early '90s.


The new series, called Plays at the Garrick, will feature Branagh both acting in and directing productions of classic and contemporary works.

Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale" will reunite Branagh with Judi Dench in a staging codirected by Branagh and Rob Ashford. Dench has collaborated numerous times with Branagh on stage and screen, including his 1989 film version of "Henry V."

"A Winter's Tale" is set to begin performance in October. Dench will play the role of Paulina, while Branagh will play Leontes.

Next year, James will play the heroine in "Romeo and Juliet" opposite her "Cinderella" costar, Richard Madden. The production is set to run May 2016 to August 2016.

The lineup will also include Branagh starring in a production of "The Entertainer," by John Osborne; a staging of Terence Rattigan's "Harlequinade," about a theater company putting on Shakespeare; and "The Painkiller," an adaptation of a Francis Veber play directed by Sean Foley and starring Branagh and Rob Brydon.

"The Painkiller" was previously seen at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, Ireland, in 2011.

"Cinderella" is Branagh's highest grossing movie as a director, with an estimated $183.5 million in domestic ticket sales so far. The live-action fairy tale has reaped $439.5 million worldwide.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT